Rally Held to Demand Justice in Ted Stevens’ Investigation
ANCHORAGE - Alaskans from both sides of the aisle are coming together to demand justice for the late Senator Ted Stevens after what they're calling the Department of Justice's corrupt handling of the investigation.
The group Alaskans For Justice held a rally asking for reform and accountability, and says justice should be blind, no matter who you are.
As hundreds packed into the Pen Air hangar there was no doubt who was on everyone's mind.
“All these people are here for the same reason I’m here, they want to see justice done,” said Eileen Behr, who was there supporting the rally.
“What happened to my senator, your friend, and my friend should never happen to anybody in this room and it can under the present system,” said Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.
It was a unified call for justice for the late Senator Ted Stevens, who was convicted in 2008 for lying on financial disclosure forms. That conviction was thrown out the next year; now a 500-page report from a special investigator says the prosecutors on the case Jim Bottini and James Goeke intentionally withheld evidence and allowed their star witness former Veco chief Bill Allen to lie on the stand.
“He lied on the stand in the Stevens case, he lied on the stand on my case,” said former state lawmaker Vic Kohring, who served a year behind bars for bribery and extortion which was later vacated. Kohring says the miscarriage of justice went beyond Stevens. “What happened to him was just a travesty, the same thing happened to me. Ted was on the verge of going to prison, I was sitting in prison, our lives were ruined about what these people did, they themselves should be held accountable.”
Alaska's senior senator says legislation can change that. “We need to be able to believe in the constitutional principle that everyone, regardless of your title, your stature, your income – everyone gets a fair trial,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
Bottini's attorney Ken Wainstein understands why people would be upset about Stevens not getting due process.
But he says the errors were not intentional. In fact he says the report was not accurate because it didn't give the prosecutors a chance to defend themselves.
“It has not given them the opportunity to say their piece, to have any input about these allegations or to rebut these allegations against them,” said Wainstein. “We all make mistakes and they have to face the consequences of their mistakes but that shouldn't be something that should cause them to get their heads cut off.”
It’s a mistake that Alaskans hope the new legislation will change. But whether that legislation will bring about change remains to be seen. Senator Murkowski and Senator Mark Begich co-sponsored legislation to require prosecutors to turn over all favorable evidence to the defense.